Grist & Blue

Canon Camera, Farm, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Journaling, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Still Life, Vehicle, Vehicle Restoration, Weather, Winter
Dormant Rusting Relics - Manning, Alberta 1

Dormant Rusting Relics – Manning, Alberta 1

Dormant Rusting Relics - Manning, Alberta 2

Dormant Rusting Relics – Manning, Alberta 2

It’s March. Two weeks ago we were at -28C, here in High Level, Alberta. Yesterday and today Spring’s warmth melts snow. Returning to High Level from Edmonton on a Saturday afternoon, two weeks ago, a Tamron telephoto lens allowed for this high dynamic range (HDR) image capture of these three dormant, rusting relics – trucks not quite ready for salvage, more grist for custom renovation, nostalgic celebration or for parts. The clarity of the Tamron lens is excellent and at 400 metres distance from the vehicles distortion is limited. I’m liking the image yielded, its blues and textures – they remind of childhood play amongst cars next to the shop at my cousins’ farm.

Quote to Inspire – “To photograph: it is to put on the same line of sight the head, the eye and the heart.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Quote to Inspire – A story first heard in an interview with Rosanne Cash, last June … interesting. “I had a dream once about confronting art, personified, as a human being, and him telling me that he didn’t respect dilettantes. This dream was about eight years ago and it changed my life. I knew that I had to strengthen my concentration and really focus on what I was doing and commit to this work in a really deep way or else give it up. There’s no in-between. That presence is still with me. I want to please him. It’s off the wall, but it was really powerful.” – ‘Rosanne Cash by David Byrne,’ ‘BOMB – Artists in Conversation.’

Listening to – Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Walk like a Man,’ ‘Tunnel of Love’ and ‘Two Faces;’ then it’s ‘Radio Nowhere.’ The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ has shown in different playlists a couple of times in the past week.

Treed Hallway

Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Home, Light Intensity, Night, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Still Life, Sunrise, Winter
Walterdale House Green - Edmonton, Alberta - Canada

Walterdale House Green – Edmonton, Alberta – Canada

Southward, under Edmonton’s 105th Street bridge, just steps to its west are three sturdy houses from Edmonton’s early nineteen hundreds, houses that comprised what was then known as Walterdale. Each is a two storey structure; two are white and another that has become subject for this image is more ornate in its presentation – white or cream on teal or perhaps a turquoise green. An image from memory coaxes me along this early morning photo ramble – an autumnal scene, a photo of my father’s in which he’s framed one of the white Walterdale houses with fall yellows of birch and aspen along a treed path, an open-ended hallway opening out and arriving at that white house. That photo hangs downstairs, on a wall outside my study where it can receive morning sunlight on sunlit days. Until this photograph, I had not set foot in Walterdale for perhaps thirty years.

Colour, composition and lighting attract me to this image.

Listening to – Marco Beltrami & The Giver Cast perform ‘End Credits’ to ‘The Giver (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack);’ it’s also a piece my daughter is playing on our Heintzman piano (it’s just been tuned … good); I’ve been playing Casting Crowns’ ‘Broken Together’ on it last night – something beautiful.

Quote to Inspire – “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” – Robert Capa

Its Next Turn

Best Practices - Photography, Canon Camera, Canon Live View, Christmas, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Journaling, Lookback Photos - One Year Ago, Photoblog Intention, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Summer, Sunrise, Sunset, Weather, Winter
Sunset Cloudburst - Valleyview, Alberta - Canada

Sunset Cloudburst – Valleyview, Alberta – Canada

Vermillion Lakes - Banff, Alberta - Canada

Vermillion Lakes – Banff, Alberta – Canada

2015 is here. It has arrived. Christmas has come and been, presents have been shared and received, family has been enjoyed, rest has been had. An emphasis on creating images has been more absent during this time.

The time has offered the chance to explore/research the photography of others and Google Circles has been a key venue for doing so. It has been an excellent venue for sharing images. What I am impressed by is the speed and rapidity by which new images are added to one’s home stream. And, it is entirely too easy to reach out and access the camaraderie of other photographers and genres of photography that you or I define. Google Circles is a marvelous means of gathering inspiration for photography by way of witnessing what others manage to create – ideas for what I or anyone might try are right there, in front of you. With Google Circles it has been necessary to pare down distracting and unintended kinds of images; but, it can be done in an easy way that can serve your photographic interests. What I did not anticipate was that it would surface significant interests for next steps in photography.

What this exploration has also surfaced is that good photographers are always in touch with their world; they are familiar with current affairs; they have a good sense of what’s going on in terms of the Arts; they are current with literature and the intentions behind such narrative. They are in step and in sync with their world. And, they create images with intention.

So, this blog, takes its next turn. What will I photograph next? What skills will I aim to grow? What influences will I find in this next year? These are likely your questions too. Good! Let’s see what images we can bring into being.

Gratitude – thank you, to all who have been a part of these three years of ‘In My Back Pocket – Photography;’ thank you for your interest and encouragement; thank you for those times when you’ve steered me to a next idea or skill; thank you for the camaraderie (or, perhaps better stated, solidarity) associated with a common pursuit. It ‘all’ counts and I am grateful.

The images presented here are some fun with black and white and selective colorization, images from this summer’s travels.

Listening to – Chopin’s Nocturne No. 14 in F Sharp minor, Opus 9, No. 1; a recording by Amir Katz.

Quote to Consider – “The best images are the ones that retain their strength and impact over the years, regardless of the number of times they are viewed.” – Anne Geddes

Time Out (in the Brubeck sense)

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The Blue Hills - Buffalo Head Prairie, Alberta

The Blue Hills – Buffalo Head Prairie, Alberta

Taking time-out in the Brubeck sense, there being too much to do, having completed one huge step along a bigger task, clearing my head with photography before tackling the next huge step. This image is taken on a stretch of road behind the highway connecting Blue Hills to Buffalo Head Prairie, Alberta. The intention had been to use three F-10 images of the same scene with focus-stacking software to produce a merged, focused image utilizing the lens’ strongest point of focus with various focal points in the scene. I didn’t get that far. I didn’t purchase focus-stacking software. Instead, I used HDR Efex Pro to merge the three shots. I’m liking the result, an image that would suit a Thanksgiving theme, the harvest complete, the field prepared for spring and a move toward quieter, less hectic work. Good.

Listening to – A Mash-up of Radiohead vs Dave Brubeck – Five Step; have a listen and watch … http://www.kewego.co.uk/video/iLyROoafJd5s.html ; also, listening to Bruce Cockburn’s ‘My Beat’ and ‘Wondering Where the Lions Are.’

Quote to Consider – “It is not altogether wrong to say that there is no such thing as a bad photograph – only less interesting, less relevant, less mysterious one.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’

Swathed, Corduroy Rows

Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Combine (Farming), Farm, Flora, Journaling, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Spring
International Combine - Whitecourt, Alberta 3

International Combine – Whitecourt, Alberta 3

International Combine - Whitecourt, Alberta 4

International Combine – Whitecourt, Alberta 4

On fields, rolling in their contour, somewhere between Sangudo and Whitecourt, Alberta, an International combine sits, no longer harvesting grain from broad swathed, corduroy rows; the combine is placed within a farmer’s field close to the highway to attract its sale – another farmer could use this International 914 for parts. For me, though, driving past through each season the International’s structure, angles and colour presents contrast to its surrounding landscape attracting my attention. I’ve been meaning to photograph it for some time. Last June, a solitary drive home provided opportunity; and, over the last few nights I’ve been able to edit the image.

Listening to – Peter Gabriel’s ‘San Jacinto,’ ‘In Your Eyes,’ ‘Solsbury Hill,’ ‘Shaking the Tree’ and ‘Blood of Eden.’

Quote to Consider – “… there is a difference between photography conceived as ‘true expression’ and photography conceived (as it is more commonly is) as faithful recording ….” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’

Opportunities, Extraordinary

Backlight, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Flora, Journaling, Light Intensity, Night, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Shuttertime with Sid and Mac, Summer, Sunrise
Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 1

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 1

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 2

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 2

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 3

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 3

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 4

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 4

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 5

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 5

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 6

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 6

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 7

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 7

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 8

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta 8

One aspect of photography that has grown into practice is the matter of recognizing the opportunity presented by the derelict car in a field along the highway, the abandoned farmhouse and former granaries, that thing that you come upon in your travels that you may not ever see again. The challenge is to make time for it, to engage fully in seeing it, to name it, to grasp what it is and what has been its narrative, to share time with it. The choice becomes that of photographing it (… or not) and there are choices in editing that honour the subject and the image, to find its best way(s) of being seen. The image, in its being shared creates opportunity; what has been witnessed and what has been created, not only allows others to see something more of the world, but serves to encourage (or perhaps compel) exploration of that thing witnessed through your camera and lens.

Some of this is about that key teaching from Robin Williams, as professor Keating, in the ‘Dead Poets Society’ in the first poetry lesson – ‘Gather ye rose buds while ye may,’ the import of which was his solemn admonition to his students – ‘seize the day’ and ‘make your lives extraordinary.’ Carpe Diem is about seizing the day as much with any of life’s opportunities as with the opportunities for images that can be created with a camera.

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/579285/Dead-Poets-Society-Movie-Clip-Seize-The-Day.html

In Banff last week, perhaps owing to summer heat or day/night air pressure differential in the mountains I found myself not always sleeping through the entire night and chose to get out with my camera for landscape photos in pre-dawn dusk. Before leaving for Banff, I had reviewed Maciek Solkulski’s Google+ page for winter sunrise shots he had taken at the Vermillion Lakes in Canada’s Banff National Park. Maciek, an Edmonton photographer, is one half of the podcasting duo of the Shutter Time with Sid and Mac podcast. From Mac’s Google+ page I was able to review maps of where the Vermillion Lakes were in relation to Banff. And, so, before dawn, two days in a row, I got out to the Vermillion Lakes for morning images; these are presented here.

Listening to – Elliott Smith’s ‘Between Bars,’ ‘No Name #3’ and ‘Angeles,’ Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ and The Waterboys’ ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ – all songs from Good Will Hunting.

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “The photographer both loots and preserves, denounces and consecrates;” and, “Life is not about significant details, illuminated (in) a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’

Lost & The Way

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Mount Norquay Ski Hill - Banff, Alberta 1

Mount Norquay Ski Hill – Banff, Alberta 1

Mount Norquay Ski Hill - Banff, Alberta 2

Mount Norquay Ski Hill – Banff, Alberta 2

Trusting the map, trusting Steve with the map – some twenty-five years ago, in Canada’s Banff National Park we cycled along a fire road behind Mount Norquay with the intention of riding our mountain bikes up and down the mountain along what should have been a short ride on a horse trail, no more than four hours at the most. Instead, for two or three hours, our bikes were hefted onto shoulders and step-by-step, in sunlight, through rain, in sunlight again and then through snow we climbed upward toward Elk Point summit. Steve, whose cardio-vascular fitness out-stripped ours, was up the mountain easily and a ways ahead, scouting the trail.

We crested the summit in snow, large, feathery, wet flakes of snow, our legs rubbery gelatin, needing rest. Plodding forward without the energy to return to cycling, we pushed our bikes, hoping to meet Steve somewhere on the path and settle-in for a rest. We looked ahead into the snow for Steve and looking harder a second time saw him racing toward us and pointing to his right (our left); he was signalling something quite assertively. When he met us, he pointed again to our left and gasping identified the bear on the other side of the summit’s meadow. We focused our eyes. There it was, scrabbling at the earth, eating, with its back to us. Along our climb we had seen massive bear paw prints in the mud – twelve-to-fourteen inches in diameter. We’d hoped they were not fresh. Now, we needed to get on our bikes, get our pedals pumping and put distance between us and this bear. Ten minutes later we huddled beneath a huge forest conifer, away from the bear, out of the snow.

We considered the time; we started riding at 2:00 p.m. and aimed to complete our twenty kilometre trek by suppertime. It was now 8:00 p.m.; we’d made it to the summit and with September’s shrinking daylight hours the sun’s incline over the horizon had already begun. Riding down the mountain would occur in shadow and our descent would, for the most part, occur in darkness. We began riding downward on the mountain’s horse trail switchbacks. Our bicycles’ brake pads quickly wore down to nothing – we needed to sit on the cross-bar and use our feet on gravel to slow our descent. Seeing pretty well in the dark, I led through the zig and zag of mountain switchbacks. Fifteen minutes went by without incident. Then, rounding one switchback Steve’s bike flew over my head … without Steve; he’d been higher up, on a switchback behind me. His bike had landed in bushes ahead of me. We halted taking stock of how we were doing. We were cold, somewhat lost and had exhausted the food we’d brought – our best bet was to follow trail markers toward Banff. We put Steve back on his bike and trudged on. The switchbacks levelled out into a long valley, an area that should have been easy to traverse – just cycling along the track. But, the track was mud, four inches deep … likely the result of the rain and snow we’d encountered on the other side of the mountain. We would have to push our bikes through the mud or carry them; without sustaining food and calories, our legs remained gelatinous rubber. We hefted our bikes and pushed them on drier bits of earth.

The photograph, presented here, is the area where the four of us moved from mountain trail on to paved road surface.

From here, I rode down the mountain, quickly, got to the Ford three-quarter ton, returned and got the others – Steve, Vince and Goose (last name Guzman). Hypothermic, worried and overwhelmed, Vince and Goose had fallen from their bikes crossing the western-most Texas-gate leading into Banff, Vince hurting family jewels and Goose hyper-extending two fingers. At the hospital, we were fed cookies and tea and Vince and Goose were examined by a doctor who scolded us for cycling into bear country – cyclists, in their speed, can surprise bears and this doctor had treated a cyclist the week before who had been mauled by a bear.

Rather than return to our tent trailer, I rented a chalet and its proprietor allowed us to use the pool/Jacuzzi to warm ourselves. Later, pizza and much needed sleep served to rejuvenate us; we were ready to go at the crack of dawn, the next day. With our endeavor, we’d trusted Steve with a mountain map and there’d been confusion with directions. That night, as we each made sense of the mishap we were amazed at where we’d been; our twenty-some kilometre trek had morphed into sixty-two kilometres by the ride’s end. Looking back, those were much younger days, the kind my son will have with his pals at University. For me, though, I was freshly married, out of University, yet to be employed and among friends as my wife began her school year as teacher in northern Alberta. I had not been to this site for more than twenty-five years. Last week, looking in and around Banff with my camera I found it and this story again.

Lost
By David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. you must let it find you.

Listening to – Jessica Sanchez’ ‘Lead Me Home,’ Jack Johnson’s ‘Home,’ Sarah Masen’s ‘The Valley’ and Snow Patrol’s ‘Life Boats’ and ‘This Isn’t Everything You Are.’

Quote to Inspire – “[Photographing] … is a way of at least tacitly … encouraging whatever is going on to keep on happening.”

Amid Blackened Pick Up Stix

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Muskeg Flowers - Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta 1

Muskeg Flowers – Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta 1

Muskeg Flowers - Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta 2

Muskeg Flowers – Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta 2

I hadn’t driven the back road from Fort Vermilion to Slave Lake for perhaps ten or more years. While intention had been to cut hours from drive time, my curiosity pulled me toward what had become of Slave Lake after the town had been overcome by forest fire in May, 2011, losing a third to two thirds of its homes and businesses. I remember being five hours north and listening to radio reports of the fire moving rapidly, of the fire jumping highways, of the immediate need for evacuation of residents from Slave Lake to Athabasca and of those residents being given emergency shelter in school gymnasiums. Adele’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ was played by local radio stations to highlight the firefighters and water bomber pilots battling the fire and the evacuation of residents – some of the song’s lyrics associate well to the experience endured; the paradox of setting fire to rain was the attracting lyric.

For me, three years on, travelling to Edmonton, along highway 88 toward Slave Lake, I found other areas of forest that had been touched in the same fire. I stopped my car for the second interruption to my drive, where the silhouette of remaining blackened, yet dead trees continue to stand somewhat vertical, in the up-and-down of pick-up-stix, against a northern Alberta sunset – their silhouette catching my eye and drawing out my camera. The first growth of flowers, cotton-like intrigued me. I walked in twenty metres on muskeg – watery, peaty, muddy, gelatinous earth that overlays earth beneath that remains frozen. These flower images were gathered.

Listening to – Supertramp’s ‘Live in Paris ’79’ Concert; I’d first seen the ‘Crisis, What Crisis?’ concert in 1978; currently captivating songs include ‘Bloody Well Right,’ ‘Another Man’s Woman,’ ‘Dreamer’ and ‘Crime of the Century.’

Quote to Inspire – “Photographs cannot create a moral position, but they can reinforce one – and can help build a nascent one.”

Midnight Sun – Mists

Best Practices - Photography, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Flora, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Photoblog Intention, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Spring, Still Life, Sunset, Weather
Highway Mists - Twin Lakes, Alberta 1

Highway Mists – Twin Lakes, Alberta 1

Highway Mists - Twin Lakes, Alberta 2

Highway Mists – Twin Lakes, Alberta 2

I asked my son to stop our truck, here, at Twin Lakes just where you begin a five kilometre descent, a significant change in altitude often accompanied by an equally significant change in weather. Twin Lakes was our first safe opportunity to pull off the road and to use the camera to capture what we’d been seeing. Not quite, London’s pea-soup fog, but fog thick enough for you to hear a vehicle approaching before you would see it. And, northern Alberta is the land of the midnight sun; at 10:30 p.m. the sun has still not quite crossed the horizon to the West (left). There were perhaps ten other, perhaps more dramatic shots before this point in the road that I would have taken, but stopping in misty conditions could have caused an accident. Better to be safe and take shots without peril.

Listening to – ‘On Being with Krista Tippett’ and her 2011 interview with Vincent Harding who recently passed away; Vincent has connection to the Mennonites and wrote some of Martin Luther King’s speeches.

Quote to Inspire – “Imperfect technique has come to be appreciated precisely because it breaks the sedate equation of Nature and Beauty.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’

From a Distance

Canon Camera, Canon Live View, Farm, Home, Homestead, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Spring
Gull Lake Homestead - Fort Vermilion, Alberta 1

Gull Lake Homestead – Fort Vermilion, Alberta 1

Gull Lake Homestead - Fort Vermilion, Alberta 2

Gull Lake Homestead – Fort Vermilion, Alberta 2

Gull Lake Homestead - Fort Vermilion, Alberta 3

Gull Lake Homestead – Fort Vermilion, Alberta 3

A first photo from the field (with permission) of this one-hundred year old homestead home that I have photographed from the road through various seasons.

Listening to – Tenth Avenue North’s ‘You Are More.’

Quote to Inspire – “Photography is normally an omnipotent viewing from a distance.”